TikTok has asked a federal judge in Washington to stop the Trump administration from banning the rapidly growing social media network.
TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance Ltd., filed a lawsuit Friday night challenging recent steps the Trump administration took to prevent the app from working in the United States. – stake of the geopolitical struggle over technology and commerce in the American legal system.
Trump overstepped his authority, the company said, and did so for political reasons rather than to stop an “unusual and extraordinary threat” against the United States, as the law requires. TikTok also said the ban violates its First Amendment free speech rights.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s actions “would destroy an online community where millions of Americans have come together to speak out,” according to the complaint. The company claimed that the US government had “ignored the evidence” showing TikTok’s commitment to the privacy and security of its US users.
On August 6, Trump issued an executive order saying he would ban transactions with the app within 45 days, claiming Chinese ownership of the social network made it a threat to national security. TikTok filed a lawsuit to block that order in federal court in California in August. But on Friday, the Commerce Department, moving to implement Trump’s order, said TikTok would be banned in the United States from November 12 unless it could strike a takeover deal that allay government concerns.
Trump’s order follows an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which is examining proposals for acquisitions of domestic companies by foreign investors for reasons of national security. And it sparked a wave of negotiation attempts, prompting ByteDance to seek a sale of TikTok’s US operations to a US company. TikTok is currently in talks with Oracle Corp. on a possible agreement.
Trump, on the verge of deciding whether or not to approve an alliance between Oracle and TikTok, spoke by phone Friday with Oracle president Larry Ellison, according to people familiar with the matter.
The lawsuit comes as Trump steps up his campaign against China, betting that a hard line against Beijing will help him win the November election despite the upheaval of millions of young TikTok users. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has urged US companies to ban Chinese apps from their app stores, as part of his “Clean Network” guidelines designed to prevent Chinese authorities from accessing the personal data of US citizens.
The Trump administration also ordered a ban on downloading the China-owned WeChat messaging app from Sunday. A group of American users are challenging this ban in a California court.
TikTok, a platform for creating and sharing short videos, has grown rapidly in the United States from around 11 million monthly active users in January 2018 to around 100 million. Global usage rose to nearly 2 billion from 55 million in January 2018, the company said.
In the lawsuit, TikTok said it was offering alternatives to the president’s ban to address US concerns only for the Commerce Department to order “the destruction of TikTok in the United States.”
But lawsuits challenging executive orders that deal with national security usually face an uphill battle, according to James Dempsey, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California at Berkeley.
“Courts generally don’t review the president’s rulings on national security matters,” Dempsey said before the case was filed.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)